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Indiana Gaming Commission cracking down on illegal gambling

Published: Mar. 13, 2008 at 1:00 PM EDT|Updated: Mar. 25, 2010 at 12:35 AM EDT
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By Lindsay English
WAVE 3 Investigator

AUSTIN, Ind. (WAVE) -- If you ever find yourself in a friendly game of poker that involves betting at any type of bar or other establishment in Indiana, it might be time to fold. That's because the Indiana Gaming Commission is taking a tough stance against illegal gambling. And one bar owner in Scott County, Indiana has already been busted. WAVE 3 Investigator Lindsay English has the details.

Outside Boomer's Bar and Grill, a banner hangs announcing a Texas Hold 'Em Tournament twice a week. The problem is the tournament is illegal. Wednesday night Indiana State Police, along with Excise Officers and the Indiana Gaming Commission, busted into the bar and broke up the game.

About 60 players inside were stunned. "We came in, just got everybody's IDs, took everybody's information and stopped an allegedly illegal card game that was going on," said Indiana State Police spokesman Sgt. Jerry Goodin.

Goodin said the raid was prompted after the Indiana Gaming Commission received a complaint against the bar.

Troopers surrounded the building and kept everyone inside until they were cleared -- something the owner, Wes Thompson, was not happy about.

"We are playing a Texas Hold 'Em Tournament -- nothing any different than what any other bar around here," Thompson said. "For whatever reason, I was singled out...."

Before Thompson could finish his thought, he was led away by State Troopers, right in the middle of our interview. We later learned he was arrested and taken to the Scott County Jail for promoting professional gambling.

Other players inside couldn't believe the game was busted. "It's good the law enforcement is enforcing the law and things, but nobody's making any money. We're just having fun," said one player.

"I don't know the rules on the excise and state gambling but we all assumed it was legal. I thought it was legal," said another poker player, James Helton.

The rules are simple. If you have something at risk -- Wednesday's game cost $20 to buy in --that's illegal gambling.

"Anytime you pay into a game, or anything of value that is at risk, then it is illegal gambling," Goodin said. "In the state of Indiana, you cannot do that. What we want to make sure that we do is make sure we crack down on all the allegedly illegal games because there are a lot of establishments out here and there's a lot of people that are having real games and are playing by the rules."

The Indiana Gaming Commission has established an illegal gambling tip line. If you have any information you want to report, you can call 1-866-610-8477.

Online Reporter: Lindsay English

Online Producer: Michael Dever